It started when I was 16. I was an only child, living with my mother and father. Every night I would wake up at 2:16 AM exactly. No dopiness, no tiredness, nothing. I would sit bolt upright, for a reason unknown to me, and I would listen. I would see nothing in the pitch black of my room, I would hear nothing in my silent house. For five minutes, until 2:21 AM, I would listen hard. At first, I heard generally; five minutes of being totally alert, totally unable to switch off, hearing not a single sound. Then, as quickly as the alertness came, it faded, and I'd fall fast asleep.
This went on for a few weeks, every night, the same. I didn't think much of it. I wasn't scared very easily; this was more puzzling than anything else. Around a month or so into the awakenings, I heard the first sound. It was so close to being inaudible, I almost thought I imagined it. A soft footfall outside my door, on the stairs leading up to my attic room.
The next night, another step taken, yet still incredibly quiet, as if on tiptoes. Still, I was more puzzled than scared, but it was starting to become a little strange. This progressed, night after night, the footsteps growing louder and louder, closer and closer up the 12 stairs to my room.
On the fifth night, I tried to get out of my bed to investigate during the awakening. But I couldn't move. It didn't feel like paralysis; it felt like my body wasn't my own, as if I had no control; as if all I had was consciousness and no physical input. I started to become scared.
The next day I stayed off school "sick". I was beside myself with fear for that night. I finally fell asleep at around 2:00 AM.
And I woke up the next day, like nothing had ever happened. I had not awakened during my sleep. I felt more refreshed than I had been in weeks. I was beside myself with relief, and had a great day. The next night, again, I slept like a log. It was over.
The next month was probably the best of my life. I did well in all my classes, I got a girlfriend. I had good luck and generally, just had a good time.
It was after a particularly good Saturday spent with my girlfriend that I went to bed, the happiest guy alive. I couldn't wait for the next day.
I have never felt the same chills as I felt that night when I woke up at 2:16 AM, sitting bolt upright, unable to move, staring blindly into space, listening. Four minutes of complete silence passed; with every second, a stronger chill surged down my spine. With every second, another bead of cold sweat slipping down my neck.
At 2:20, with the loudest crash, I heard my door being ripped from its hinges and smashed against the far wall. Footsteps thudding towards me with unstoppable intent, louder than you can possibly imagine, closer and closer until they stopped dead. A cold rush of air washed over me, chilling me to the bone. My eyes, wide with terror, searching for anything, anything to focus on. For a few seconds, nothing happened. Then suddenly, emblazoned in my vision in white, etched, print the words "I have arrived", along with the most horrible sound I have ever heard. If you have ever heard the screams of foxes in the night, imagine them at a much lower pitch... An inhuman, guttural scream, the scream of an agonized, tortured soul. I remember the exact sound to this very day.
Beyond that, there was nothing. I fell asleep at 2:21 AM, and woke up the next day too terrified to do anything. I sat hunched on my bed. All day. Unmoving. When night came, I was wide awake. I never wanted to sleep again. Time ticked by on the clock... 1:30... 1:45... 2:00... 2:10... 2:15... Then I blacked out. I don't remember anything that happened that night.
I awoke to find myself standing in my parents' room. Simply standing there, arms by my sides, relaxed. I had no idea how I got there, which in itself was slightly alarming, as I had never been prone to sleepwalking. But the disturbing thing was that I didn't feel odd. I didn't feel out of place, staring down blankly at the faces of my sleeping parents. I couldn't help but notice how vulnerable they looked.
Eventually I snapped out of my trance and went downstairs. I vaguely remember making breakfast. I ate food but tasted nothing. My senses seemed to be dulled, my head hazy. Despite the horror of the night before last, I did not feel scared... I didn't feel... well... anything. I went to school that day, concentrating on nothing, accepting a detention wordlessly, coasting along. Never once making an attempt to talk to anyone about anything. School ended and I walked home.
That night, my phone rang. I watched it. I remember just... just watching it ring out, no desire to answer, no desire to even check who it was. Presumably, it was my girlfriend, as she came round later that night. I was upstairs, just sitting on my bed, staring at the wall. She tried to talk to me, I didn't answer. She lay down and pulled me down with her. She hugged me, trying to coerce me to respond. But one thing really annoyed me, and I don't know why. She kept telling me I was really cold. Really, really fucking cold. Eventually, I turned over to look at her. At first she smiled as my eyes met hers; finally, a response. The smile quickly faded. I felt no love for this girl. I felt like I did not know her, and this must have been reflected in my eyes. Empty, devoid of caring. All I could see was her vulnerability, lying there next to me.
She fell asleep at about 1 AM. I just watched her like that, for a full hour. At 2 AM, I closed my eyes, not even a hint of anxiety. I counted those 16 minutes, second by second, and thereafter I remember nothing.
I woke up in a pool of blood as dawn broke. I looked to my right to see my girlfriend. Her chest had been ripped apart, her ribs hanging loose at either side. Unidentifiable organs spilling out. I felt nothing. I rose from my bed, covered in blood. I followed a trail of red, arterial blood out of my room, down my stairs, into my parents' room. My father's head lay bloodied and caved-in beside his still-oozing neck. A giant gash split his back in two. His right leg rammed down my mother's throat, her jaw unhinged and her legs and arms crumpled at impossible angles. I felt nothing.
I turned around and walked downstairs. I noticed a trail of blood left in my wake. You could smell it. Smell it seeping into the carpet, the cloying smell of iron pervading the house. Even through my numbed senses. I went and made myself breakfast. Another tasteless meal. In fact, it was getting worse. I could taste less than the day before. I went back upstairs and stared at the wall for hours, I think. By now I keep forgetting what happened... My mind just became cloudy and unaware of what was happening. Eventually, I just lay back down in the pool of blood, next to my eviscerated girlfriend.
I remember reading 2:16 on the alarm before I went to sleep that night. I remember waking up standing in front of the wall next to my parents' room. From the door frame to where I was standing at the wall, neat rows of blood-colored handprints. I couldn't see much, but looking down, I saw my hand smeared in red. My hearing was almost gone. My touch was so dull that I felt completely separate from the rest of the world. Trudging over to my parents' room, I should have been horrified. Not only because of the mangled corpses, but because of the fact that every wall, the floor and even the ceiling were covered in handprints, my handprints. Inked in my parents' coagulating blood.
The last thing I remember doing was going downstairs and clumsily searching through my drawers; finally finding a rusty old knife that had dropped behind the back of one drawer, then making my slow way upstairs. Then, nothing.
A neighbor eventually complained about the smell coming from our house. The police arrived shortly afterwards. I pity anyone who had to step into that house. Nearly a week's decay would have made the smell utterly overwhelming. They thought we were all dead at first. But, when I had been transported outside, upon closer inspection, I was still alive; somehow.
They had found me on the stairs with both legs and my left arm lying beside me, detached. There were no clean cuts, nothing surgical about the procedure. They could not explain how I had not died of shock or blood-loss, but as they discovered my only remaining limb grasping that blunt, rusty table knife, they knew what had done it.
I've been in the institution for two weeks now. I have never felt better. I feel... normal. I'm like any other person now. Any one of you. I could be living a normal life, feeling like this. Like every one of your existences. But I'm not. I'm writing this final little bit, waiting for an operation to save my digestive system. See, there's an unidentified metal object in there somewhere that has to come out. A little box-shaped thing. Well, I say unidentified... I only just remembered that my girlfriend had a pacemaker.